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Holiday Central > Shavuot > Megilat Rut
Shavuot: The Story of Ruth
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Ruth in a Minute:
Naomi, her husband and their two sons left Israel for Moab. The boys married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Tragically, all three women lost their husbands. Naomi decides to return to Israel and urges her daughters-in-law to remarry and begin again. Orpah does. Ruth doesn’t: "For wherever you go, I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God." (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth and Naomi return to Israel, impoverished and hungry. The Torah tells farmers to leave small sheathes dropped or forgotten during harvest for the poor. Field corners had to be left for the poor to harvest, as well. Knowing this, Ruth goes to gather wheat in Boaz’s field. Because Boaz has heard of Ruth’s compassionate treatment of his relative Noami, he treats Ruth kindly, permitting her to drink with his workers. Once Naomi hears this, she encourages Ruth to remind Boaz of his obligation to perform yibum.

If a man died without leaving an heir it was a mitzvah for the deceased husband’s close relative to marry the widow so that the deceased husband’s family line would not be extinguished. This mitzvah is known as yibum. Most often, because this mitzvah made for complicated family ties, the rabbis encouraged the couple to sever their obligation to each other through a chalitza ceremony, where for some reason or another a shoe was removed from the male relative’s foot.

Ruth followed Naomi’s instructions and crept into Boaz’s threshing room. He was sleeping there, perhaps to guard the grain, after the harvest. She laid down next to him and uncovered his feet. Boaz awoke and asked for an explanation. Ruth explained her predicament, but Boaz replied that a closer relative had to forsake his obligation to Ruth first.

This unnamed relative declined to marry Ruth and performed chalitza instead. Boaz and Ruth marry and have a son, Oved, who grows up to be King David’s grandfather.

Lessons from Ruth
It is from Ruth’s journey that many lessons are learned about how we are to regard Jews-by-choice. Ruth, a Moabite, became the matriarch of an enduring royal line. Reform Judaism in particular has flung wide the doors of welcome, reaching out to all those who seek a connection with Judaism. The Jewish people are enriched by the newcomers’ diversity of experience and wisdom.

Furthermore, at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the Jewish people proclaimed to God: "All that you say, we will do." Ruth’s faith, courage and loyalty personify this commitment.

Mazor Guide to Shavuot, Pentecost, brings you much more about the holiday, its meaning and its traditions... See the links below.

MazorGuide Recommended Reading

RUTH - ArtScroll Edition
A new translation with a commentary anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic sources

The ArtScroll Series presents the comments of the classic giants of ancient and contemporary times in a logical, comprehensible manner, like a master teacher on an exciting voyage of intellectual discovery.

  • Entire Hebrew text reset in clear modern type
  • Flowing English translation
  • Commentary anthologized from 2,000 years of Talmudic and Rabbinic sources
  • Overviews exploring the hashkafah/philosophical background of each volume.

To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life (Paperback)
by Hayim H. Donin (Author)

 

 
     
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